Nice shoes, wanna talk about a serious issue? Flirting is normal behavior, especially for those who are near or at their sexual maturity. Chatting up, as the British call, it is a way of (mostly) harmlessly seeing if someone is receptive as a potential mate. It’s not always intentional, but regardless of why and how it happens, it’s a fact of life.
What is considered flirting? Flirting is behavior that can be physical or social in nature involving verbal or non-verbal gestures or communicative cues that conveys a sexual interest that may or may not suggest a desire for a more serious or deeper relationship towards the intended individual.
Comments like, “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” is a classic pickup line, and unquestionably flirting. Some things are far more subtle, even to the point of being ineffective. In a relationship, the amount and nature of flirting, or ‘acceptable flirting,’ varies.
Why Do Married People Flirt
Spoiler alert, most married men, don’t flirt to get sex. It does happen, but not as often as you might think. Most people, male or female, will flirt, but only about 22% of men will actually cheat. You’ll find plenty of information on outright cheating in our other articles. Flirting isn’t second nature to us; it’s first. Yet it can still hurt our relationships and partners if mishandled. So why do we do it?
- Sex- Let’s get this one out of the way. Yes, people flirt for sex. Feeling out a potential mate, whether temporary like a one night stand, or permanent, like a wife or husband, is normal. Trying to make them feel good so they like you, and getting into their good graces with wit, humor or charm will usually get you into their pants over time if you follow through long enough. For obvious reasons, the amount of effort varies.
- To Get Something We Want (Other Than Sex)- Women often flirt with bartenders they never intend to sleep with to get cheap drinks. Men do it too. Though it’s considered less frequent and less effective, we can’t prove that either way. Being extra appealing when making a request, and boosting the other party’s ego, is a great way to get discounts and freebies, or just better service.
- For an Ego Boost- Sometimes, we all need to feel wanted. If you’re married, then (hopefully) your partner’s desire is a sure thing. There’s excitement in that, but when it comes to boosting the ego, there’s just nothing like knowing that even strangers who barely know you still lust after your body.
- Just for Fun- Being sexy feels good. Flirting is part of the sexual attraction process; hence flirting is sexy. Whether someone does it for a sweet reason, or for the additional ego boost that comes with the power of refusing after a build up, lots of people consider flirting fun. It keeps you on your verbal toes.
Flirting Can Be Illegal
It’s okay if you’re feeling a little skeptical at the idea of illegal flirting. Unfortunately, there are places where flirtation can get you into big trouble. Not just “repressed foreign countries,” but right here in the USA, flirting can get you a fine. In Ottumwa Iowa, you can’t even wink at a woman you don’t know.
New York’s Proposed Flirting Ban
The 1920s were a strange time. People were smuggling liquor made in bathtubs to secret nightclubs among other weird behavior. New York City tried to ban flirting. The proposed law, according to the Smithsonian, could get you a $500 fine, which amounted to a whole lot more back then.
“Any person who is intoxicated in a public place, or who shall by any offensive or disorderly act or language, annoy or interfere with any person or persons in any place or with the passengers of any public stage, railroad car or ferryboat, or who shall disturb or offend the occupants of such conveyance by any disorderly act or language or display, although such conduct may not amount to an assault or battery, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Where in The World
Flirting doesn’t merely vary from person to person, but also from place to place. What is barely more than a friendly hello in the Mediterranean, a light kiss, can get you arrested and deported in parts of the United Arab Emirates. Even in forward-thinking places like Dubai, the law can be very tetchy about cheek kissing. That’s not even the strangest flirtation on earth.
If your love-interest is from the Netherlands, then you’ll want to keep your hands to yourself. Personal touching is too much, and personal space is critical. Moreover, reaching forward with the intent to touch or grab may even alarm them and make them feel afraid. It’s simply not normal there.
In places like Japan and China, a bow and small smile may be the sum of your flirtations. Prolonged eye contact would be going too far, seen as both disrespectful and immodest. The same goes for many places. It’s vital to be aware of social mores when flirting away from home.
How to Set Sane Limits With Your Partner
Generational differences and socio-economic background can be pretty severe influences on how flirting is perceived, received, and performed. With respect to everyone’s individual comfort level, you have to have an open and honest conversation with your partner about flirting. What works for some people is a marriage ender for others.
However mature we feel we are, most people have at least a little trouble looking at their partner and expressing a need to set ground rules. It can sound a bit crazy-possessive, or like an ultimatum, if it comes out wrong. Nevertheless, as adults, we have to communicate our needs. It truly is ‘crazy,’ to expect someone to read our needs right out of our minds.
Know Your Own Limits
Naturally, you have to know what flirting is to you, and how far you’re comfortable with someone else going before you can have a frank conversation about it. Spend some time thinking about what flirting is to you. Write it down. Play out scenarios in your head and decide what you can live with and what would make you walk away.
If you’re just starting out, find a way to bring the topic up in conversation. Say something like, “I like you a lot, and I want us to go further, but before we get to that point, let’s talk about our dealbreakers.” Once you’ve broached the subject, don’t be surprised if your new partner doesn’t have a coherent response. Give them time to think about it too and agree to revisit the topic in a few days. Don’t wait too long.
More Developed Relationships
Sometimes it doesn’t come up until it becomes an issue. If you or your partner reacts badly to the other one flirting, then you need to talk it out as well. Sure, it would have been nice if you did all of this before things got to this point, but you didn’t. There’s no time like the present to rectify a bad bit of communication.
Lay it on the line. Tell them how you feel, then shut your mouth and listen to their side with open ears and an open mind. Try to really hear what they have to say. Talk about what each of you feels is the limit of your tolerance, whether that’s as simple as a prolonged flirty conversation, or as complex as sexting. Everyone feels differently.
When you love each other and want to stay together, there’s always a solution. Compromise, or consensus, you will find a way if you want one. Don’t expect things to be instant; just work together as you move forward with your daily lives. Likewise, revisit the topic as often as necessary to renew or complete your mutual understanding.
If you genuinely can’t make it work, then you have to let go. Sooner or later, it will happen anyhow. Try to be a reasonable, mature adult about it. Even if they refuse to rise to the occasion, you don’t have to stoop to their level.
What is flirting? This is a surprisingly philosophical question. The answers and there are so many, span the globe, and are all deeply tied to socio-political histories, cultural dogma, and personal emotion. I didn’t anticipate such a surprising answer when I set out to ask the question. Hopefully, these findings will help you answer for yourself.
Is flirting considered cheating? If you’ve agreed not to do it, or your intentions are sexual then yes. Otherwise, it’s undefined at worst. Though some partners will say yes, others don’t care as long as you come home at the end of the day.
Is kissing the same as cheating? In France, a peck on the cheek means hello. In Iran, you can end up in handcuffs. You should consider kissing the same as cheating for the purpose of this question. It all depends on perspective and location.
Is flirting disrespectful? A partner who tells you that just looking at another person appreciatively is ‘disrespectful,’ is probably incredibly unhealthy and not right for you. Their level of possessiveness is well outside the ordinary or reasonable range. Sometimes the same goes for flirting. However, circumstances matter. If you tell someone they look good enough to eat in front of your long-term monogamous partner, then yes, you’re probably disrespecting them.